The School Committee will be asking for input from department heads and building principals in its next evaluation of Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dianne Kelly. The committee typically evaluates the superintendent every year, but due to the Covid pandemic, this will be Kelly’s first evaluation in two years. On Wednesday, the committee met to discuss the procedure for this year’s evaluation. The criteria the School Committee will be evaluating Kelly on will remain largely unchanged from the last one, but the input from others working within the school system is a new twist in the procedure.
School Committee Member Stacey Bronsdon-Rizzo raised the possibility of creating a focus group to give input on Kelly’s performance. She later clarified that she was looking for input through a survey of school department heads and principals rather than having a group sit down to discuss Kelly’s work over the past two years.
“I think it is important to have an understanding of how her colleagues feel about her or whether they can provide any input to areas we don’t see that can be improved upon,” said School Committee Member Aisha Milbury-Ellis.
Bronsdon-Rizzo said the survey could be done through Google or Survey Monkey. “I’m not talking about all the employees that we have; I’m thinking of people who do work with her on a regular basis,” she said, such as the head of facilities and maintenance, the administrative staff, and principals. “Those are the ones who know her day-to-day routine and job. If anything, they are going to know more than us.”
The biggest hang-up on the discussion over the surveys and school department input was over whether or not it should be anonymous. “I’d prefer it to not be anonymous because I feel honest answers come out when there are not anonymous sources,” said School Committee Member Susan Gravellese. “I would rather people have a conversation with us and that may give us more information on where there may be places that need more communication or so on.”
Milbury-Ellis said she would rather the information be given anonymously. “I think that people are more free to speak when they feel they don’t have to worry about the things they say,” she said. “We just want to take what they say and give it some consideration.”
Bronsdon-Rizzo said the committee will hold additional subcommittee meetings in the near future to determine what questions will be asked in the survey, along with other details.
Gravellese cast the lone vote against including a survey as part of the superintendent evaluation process. “I would like to know to whom these questions are going to and what the questions are before I make a decision,” she said. “To bring it back to the anonymity of the person, it was brought that you don’t want your boss to know what you think of them, but the answers do not go to the boss; they come to us, and we would keep that in confidentiality.”